Spotlight on Socrates, the founding figure of Western philosophy

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Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher who is referred to as the founder of the fundamentals of modern Western philosophy and still maintains a profound influence on today’s society along with his students Plato and Aristotle.

Socrates was born 469/470 BC to the sculptor Sophronicus and the midwife Phaenarete. He studied music, gymnastics, and grammar in his youth and followed his father's profession as a sculptor. Historians say he was an exceptional artist who served with distinction in the army and, at the Battle of Potidaea, saved the life of General Alcibiades.

The famous Greek philosopher grew up during the golden age of Pericles’ Athens and became best known as a questioner of everything and everyone.

His teaching style, famously known as the 'Socratic Method', involved not conveying knowledge but rather asking questions after clarifying questions until his students arrived at their own understanding.

Socrates did not write anything down, so all that is known about him is through his followers, mostly his student Plato.

Socrates was born and lived nearly his entire life in Athens. His father, Sophroniscus was a stonemason and his mother, Phaenarete, was a midwife. As a young man, he showed an appetite for learning.

When he was middle-aged, Socrates' friend Chaerephon asked the famous Oracle at Delphi if there was anyone wiser than Socrates, to which the Oracle answered, "None."

Ancient, as well as modern-day philosophers claim Socrates' main focus was on how to live a good and virtuous life and is said to have inspired his followers to think for themselves instead of following what was expected of society and the superstitions concerning the gods and how one should behave.

Socrates is one of the few individuals who shaped the world's cultural and intellectual development; according to many, history would be profoundly different without him.

He was the inspiration for Plato, the thinker widely held to be the founder of the Western philosophical tradition.  Plato, in turn, served as the teacher of Aristotle, thus establishing the famous triad of the ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

At the age of 70, he was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death.

Until his dying moments, Socrates expressed his belief that the key to happiness is to turn attention away from the body and toward the soul.

Here are some of Socrates' most famous quotes-

-“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

-“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

-“Those who are hardest to love need it the most.”

-“I call myself a peaceful warrior because the battles we fight are on the inside.”

-“What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our heads of what it’s supposed to be.”

-“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.”

-"The mind is everything; what you think you become."

Oracle of Delphi